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Backpacking

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Plan Your Backpacking Trip
  • Backpackers should check the Conditions Page before a backpacking trip to find out about alerts or conditions to be aware of.
  • Respect private landowners’ rights by staying on the Trail, camping only in designated campsites, and keeping your pets on-leash at all times!
    • We have over 80 parcels of private land that the Trail crosses and these parcels are usually not marked. Pockets of private land exist within state parks and state/national forests. Ownership changes more quickly than maps are updated. Not following our simple rules puts these sections of the Trail at risk of being lost — please follow our rules. 
  • Daily mileage for an average backpacker is 1 mile an hour. Your pace may likely be faster (maybe about 2 miles an hour) but with breaks, picture taking, etc. you will often find at the end of the day you’ve covered about a mile an hour. More experienced backpackers have a better idea of their daily mileage.
  • The Superior Hiking Trail Group on Facebook is an online community with many volunteers and trail users who frequently post trip reports, discuss gear, and ask for trip-planning advice.
  • The “Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail” details the Trail, landmarks, mileages and campsites with information about the number of tent pads, water sources, and distances between sites.
  • Information on the Thru-hiking Page will apply to backpackers who are planning very long trips.
  • Sample itineraries for shorter backpacking trips can be found on our blog under the category “Backpacking Trips.”
Seasonal Considerations
  • Spring: Snow does not typically melt until mid- to late-May. Post-melt mud is disheartening to hike through. Ticks and mosquitos emerge at the end of May or sooner, if there is warmer weather. Good trail conditions in the north may be two weeks behind good conditions in the south. We recommend you plan your major trips for another time of year and STAY OFF saturated trails to avoid causing damage. Note: The SHT inside the City of Duluth is closed during the spring thaw, approximately April 1 through mid-May. Please plan accordingly and respect the rules of our partners at the City.
  • Summer: Ticks and mosquitoes are not as bad, but are still present. Sometimes smaller water sources can dry up in late summer. In very dry years, a campfire ban may be in effect.
  • Fall: Bugs are gone after the first frost. Campsite use falls off dramatically after Labor Day. The majority of the Trail closes during deer firearms hunting season for two weeks each November.
  • Winter: Backpacking in winter is not recommended and is for experienced backpackers only.

The SHTA Trail Information Center cannot predict the weather. The North Shore is a big place and weather can differ wildly from place to place.

Parking Information
  • Overnight parking is allowed at many, but not all trailheads. Purchase a copy of our Guide to the Superior Hiking Trail to learn which trailheads offer overnight parking and if any conditions apply.
  • Parking is available at state parks with a park sticker. Check in with park staff to learn where to park.
  • There is no overnight parking allowed at state waysides.
  • Absolutely no camping is allowed at parking lots. This includes sleeping in your vehicle.
Shuttle
  • The Superior Shuttle runs a shuttle service throughout the year. It has scheduled stops at designated trailhead on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from mid-May to mid-October. Shuttles outside the set schedule can also be arranged.
  • For hikers needing a shuttle to/from Cook County (the northernmost part of the trail), Harriet Quarles shuttles mid-May to mid-October with pickups at the bus station or airport in Duluth and going to locations in Schroeder and north.
  • Duluth International Airport is the nearest major airport for those flying in. Skyline Shuttle and Jefferson Lines service the Minneapolis-St. Paul airport to Duluth.
  • In Duluth there is the Duluth Transit Authority bus service or local taxi services.
  • More information on Shuttle services can be found in this helpful document.
Campsites
  • Campsites have 2-6 tent pads, a fire ring, benches, and a backcountry latrine. Most are located near a natural water source. All water must be treated before drinking.
  • Respect private landowners’ rights: backpackers are required to stay at designated campsites only to avoid accidentally camping on private land.
  • All campsites must be shared.
  • Hammock hangers must also stay at the designated campsites. Some sites will be challenging and should be avoided. Hammock hangers have reported difficulties at: Heron Pond, Bear Lake, Section 13, Jonvick Creek, Sundling Creek, and Andy Creek Campsites, but your results may vary.
  • Whenever possible, use the backcountry latrine provided at campsites. If you do need to relieve yourself while you are hiking move away from water, campsites, and trails. Deposit solid human waste in holes dug 2-3 inches deep. Cover and disguise the hole when finished. Pack out sanitary products.
  • Build fires only at designated fire rings. The fire rings at each site have been installed to minimize fire danger. If you choose to have a fire, it is your responsibility to guarantee that the fire is 100% put out.
  • Absolutely no burning of trash! Pack out all garbage. Leave the campsite in better condition than you found it.
  • There are no permits, fees, or reservations needed to stay at an SHT campsite. SHT campsites are shown in the guide book and on SHT pocket maps.
  • The trail passes several state park campsites. These require a reservation and fee through the state parks. Do not stay at a state park campsite unless you have reserved it and paid for it.
  • Please keep pets on-leash at all times, even while enjoying SHT campsites.
Pets
  • Dogs are welcome on the Superior Hiking Trail but must be kept on a leash regardless of how well-trained the dog is. This rule applies to your dog! This is for the protection of wild animals, plants, and the comfort level of fellow hikers.
  • No pack animals are allowed on the Superior Hiking Trail.